March 9, 2011

“Bugs” on the Wall……Or in Your Pocket?

Filed under: Cell Phones — publicandprivatespace @ 1:30 pm

By: Daniel Latz

Cell phones are perhaps one of the greatest inventions in the last century.  Today, people use them for everything, from telephones to PDAs to alarm clocks to even game consoles.  A large majority of people do not realize however that the more that a cell phone is used, the more susceptible the user becomes to being tracked by an outside party.

Something that some people do not realize is that there is a GPS in most phones that can track a phone wherever it goes.  The few people that do understand this fact are not aware of how this can be and is used.  I hope to make people more aware of how this technology can hurt them, and to make people understand that this technology is not a great thing after all.  The other way that cell phones are tracked is by tracing any calls or texts made by the cell phone to the nearest phone tower. 

One major agency that has total access to this feature in cell phones is the government.  The government can use these methods to keep track of where its citizens are at all times.  An article by Newsweek writer Michael Isikoff highlights this fact.  Although this can be used for good, it is incredibly invasive of people’s personal space.  It takes very little for the government to establish probable cause and obtain the cell phone records.  As I read this I could not believe my eyes. To me, this should not be allowed to happen or at least there should be a more difficult process through which the government has to go to obtain the records.  The FBI could establish probable cause on a mild offense, such as not paying a traffic ticket.  The reason this alarms me is because sooner or later, the government will have ultimate control, because they will know where everyone is at any given time.  Imagine sitting at home on a Sunday, enjoying your weekend when all of the sudden, the FBI comes to your front door, just to make sure that pay for the parking violation you had a month ago.  This notion alarms me.

It is scary to see how easy it is to track a cell phone as a regular person too.  Upon searching Google, I found an incredibly large number of how-to articles on how to track a cell phone.  One such popular site, eHow, gave step by step instructions on how to do this.  I found this to be incredible.  Now, an untrusting spouse can use a cell phone to keep an eye on a cheating spouse.  A school bully can spy on the kids that he picks on in school.  Although these examples may seem extreme, these are actually very realistic situations.  New Standard News writer Catherine Komp exposes some of the possible misuses of this new technology; Newstandardnews.  There are many ways that people can abuse this technology.

The availability of this cell phone feature has become even more accessible with the new smart phones.  Many of these high-tech phones can download programs that track the GPS of another phone.  This is very concerning, but it seems as though little is being done about this problem.  This problem needs to be corrected in a timely fashion, or else the GPS in phones will be used for the wrong reason.


  1. Cara Meder

    Although this fact is a bit alarming I feel as though it will take a while for the government to address the issue. The fact of the matter is, technology like GPS on cellphones is advancing every single day ad this makes it difficult for the laws to keep up with. Until something big happens that attracts a lot of media attention the issue will stay virtually unknown to users, and will remain unaddressed. The fact that our cellphones are being tracked by the government does not worry me as much as it does some. This may be because it has never directly affected me. I do not foresee the police breaking down my door because of an unpaid parking ticket that they traced to my location.

    The idea that other people can track my phone is what really got my attention. When it is the government tracking me that’s one thing because I know that I personally will probably be overlooked because when using technology it is usually to find a criminal or solve a case of some kind. When the thought of anyone being able to find my location by going on eHow and searching how to track a cellphone I found myself feeling nervous. If this is possible with today’s technology who knows what will happen when there are new advances in technology. My main concern on this topic is where do they draw the line?

    Comment by publicandprivatespace — March 10, 2011 @ 11:50 pm | Reply

  2. Cell phones are indeed truly amazing devices.I agree that bullies, worried spouses, or even stalkers may use the tracking capabilities for the wrong reasons; however,I think the government tracking everybody is a bit of a stretch. To track every person just to collect a parking ticket? I don’t think so. If our government is going to use its resources to track an individual’s phone, that individual will definitely be worth tracking.

    This is a very informative blog with links to real life examples. It brought up a very good issue which i had not thought about previously.

    Philip Steinke

    Comment by publicandprivatespace — March 11, 2011 @ 12:02 pm | Reply

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